Category Archives: Disability

Personal Responsibility—this post brought to you by Bud Light!

24 hours have passed since the overdose death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the lines have been drawn. On the one hand, folks like me (and the AMA and the Supreme Court) arguing the disease model of alcoholism and addiction.

On the other hand, the vast majority of society calling Hoffman a loser, a weakling, a junkie and a man of terrible moral character. He simply made the wrong choices. It was his choice to put that needle in his arm. His death is his responsibility.

They’re only partially right. Once Hoffman was introduced to the disease model of addiction through treatment, he had a responsibility to A) admit that he had a disease and B) treat that disease. For twenty some years, he chose B.

But he then suffered from a medical issue that required a prescription for opiates. Inside his brain, the synapses that had long forgotten the omnipotent pleasure of that neurotransmitter dopamine, were gloriously reawakened. And it killed him. At some point, the seductive allure of that overwhelming feeling of pleasure, of wellness, predictably overtook his commitment to treatment. Opiate (heroin, Oxycontin, Vicodin) addicts are often “taken out” by the prescriptions of well-meaning physicians. They often return quickly to their opiate of choice and often die. I know of several people this has happened to. Often people, like Hoffman, who had long periods of drug abstinence.

So yeah, at the end of the day, he had a choice…throw himself headlong into his recovery, or fall victim to the chemical orgy taking place in his brain. It’s a battle borne out of the disease of addiction…that is too often lost.

Back to personal responsibility. I’ve been reading a lot of comments about his choices…his choice to slam heroin in the first place. I’m going to step out on a limb here and venture a guess that Hoffman’s first experience with mind-altering chemicals wasn’t with heroin. In fact, it was probably tobacco, or caffeine, or the most addictive drug–alcohol.

Alcohol is a mind-altering substance just like heroin. And it’s legal. And it’s deadly. And it’s abuse has filled our prisons in record numbers.

Yesterday’s Superbowl was chock full of advertisements aimed at promoting our ingestion of this mind-altering chemical…all the while being urged to “drink responsibly”.

What a joke.

To the alcoholic, there is no such thing. They MUST drink. It’s what defines the disease of alcoholism. That LEGAL substance, that we are constantly encouraged to consume, is the foundation of the disease.

How is heroin different? Or Vicodin? Or cocaine. Or marijuana? They are all mind-altering substances that are classified as illegal substances that act in our brains, on the cellular level, in the same exact manner as the legal substance alcohol.

But hey, he was just a junkie. He had a choice.

Drink responsibly…and continue to keep your head buried in the sand. They’re just junkies after all.

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It’s Pretty Simple Really…

Courtesy Robin Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Courtesy Robin Beck/AFP/Getty Images

We love to express shock and sadness when one of our icons dies of the disease of addiction. I did it here when Cory Monteith died.

It sucks. And it will continue. It’s pretty simple really. Until we…collectively…are willing to recognize facts: that alcoholism and addiction are a DISEASE, not a moral failing, not a weakness of character, these deaths will continue.

We like to laugh at those suffering. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Amanda Bynes. Or Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Or Dennis Rodman.

Do we treat them as if they had a chronic, progressive and fatal DISEASE. Of course we don’t. We use them as comedic fodder.

And when a guy like Phillip Seymour Hoffman spends his morning slamming Heroin instead of picking up his kids, we self-righteously feign shock and outrage.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of living in a society that refuses to call this illness what it is: a DISEASE.

So, you’ve got cancer, and all your friends are talking behind your back about what a loser you are or a weakling. Come on man, you can beat this cancer, just get some radiation and be done with it.

Oh, did you hear about Suzie, the diabetic? I saw her buying a pack of candy at the store the other day. If only she’d wise up and start taking her Insulin.

Yeah…it’s what we do to our sick in this country. We jail them, we criticize them and we let them die. Because it’s easier for us to judge them than to help them. To offer a compassionate word or a sign of recognition that they are fighting a demon much bigger than all of us. A demon that no one can handle without treatment.

So in our ignorance, we continue to contribute to a culture of death. When we could have been funding more treatment centers and community outreach programs. Or stepping up and voting out the Neanderthal politicians in the pocket of the prison industrial complex that profit off the suffering of the disenfranchised masses.

It makes me sick to my stomach. Rest in peace Mr. Hoffman. Here’s hoping your death will make a difference…


What it’s like…

Bud-Light-NFL-Kickoff-12-oz.-Can-Cold

Post-victorious Peyton Manning said he couldn’t wait to drink a Bud Light after their playoff victory against the Chargers.

Sounds good. One beer. Ice cold. Take the edge off. Reward for a job well done.

I could relate. I’d love a Bud Light too.

Until I actually consume it. And at that point, all similarity to Peyton Manning ends (well, that and his pass progressions, athleticism, and natural talent; although I can rock a suit like Mr. Manning).

Oh what I would give to experience that cool, fizzy liquid over my tongue.

Well for starters, I would likely sacrifice my freedom. Freedom from control and consequently freedom of movement as I will likely end up incarcerated.

You see, I don’t drink like “normal” people anymore. When I take a drink, the drink takes me.

According to the American Medical Association (and the Supreme Court) I have a disease of the same classification as cancer and diabetes. Chronic. Progressive. Fatal.

And apparently, I’m not alone.

So that refreshing, cool, perspiring can of Bud Light is not for me.

Am I feeling sorry for myself? No…because as I was running my laundry downstairs today I saw a half-smoked cigarette butt on the floor and was magically possessed with an almost uncontrollable urge to pick it up and smoke it.

I haven’t smoked in nearly 4 years after a 30 year habit, but have gained enough self-knowledge over the last decade to know that smoking that butt would lead me back to a pack and a half a day within about a week.

My brain works like that.

So for me, abstinence is the answer. Not because I want to, lord knows. But because I have to.

I have a disease that is fatal. And it often disguises itself as that seductive can of Bud Light.

I choose life.

And enjoy that beer Peyton…you’re not like me and you richly deserve it.


Crazy Train…

The title describes my life perfectly at the moment. My new job is filled with moments sublime and quite literally, crazy at times…myself…my clients…it’s chaos in motion.

Not to mention the fact that they’ve been kind enough to accommodate my son’s varsity football schedule so I can see his final year playing. It’s been awesome but has required me to work some 12 and 16 hour shifts.

This on top of 6 units at school and trying to maintain a home as a single dad (and a huge pay cut for the new job) has been stressful to say the least.

I am becoming a master of time management however, and I intend on posting more often (yes, I’m actually penning in one hour a week to blog, that’s how anal I’ve become, schedule-wise)…

So I’ve got plenty cooking in the ol’ noggin’ but haven’t had time to scribe. For those following, I apologize, but in the absence of anything beyond my narcissistic rambling, I’d like to leave you with something of substance:

http://www.thehouseilivein.org/see-the-film/

download

I’m currently working on a research paper for my English class arguing that the topic of this documentary is akin to the Conservative movements efforts at engineering Social Darwinism…please check out this critically important topic..

Thanks for hanging with me and more to follow soon!


Hip Check…

BirminghamHip

Happy Birthday hip…you’re one year old today.

In fact, exactly 365 days ago, you were inserted into my left hip.  On August 5, 2012, I had a procedure called a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing performed by Dr. Iqbal Anwar at Kaiser West Los Angeles.

I mention him by name because I will be the first to complain about substandard health care and as a result, feel compelled to give praise where praise is due.

Let’s back up a moment…okay, maybe a little more than a moment…I’m 3 or 4 years old and I remember I suddenly can’t walk.  I remember my mom carrying me everywhere, I remember a hospital, I remember talcum powder, I remember a cool red Tonka truck I got when I was released from the hospital.

What happened then? I didn’t know…

Fast forward…

I’m in a job in 2010 where I’m sitting at a desk and I notice if I sit for too long, my left hip keeps hurting and literally locking up.  This goes on for awhile and I decide to see my doctor, who refers me to an orthopedic doc…

This clown summarily dismisses me and my x-ray by telling me I’ll need my hip replaced sometime in the next ten years…end of story.

So this doesn’t sound real high on my list of priorities, so I ignore the hip…

But my hip chooses not to ignore me.  The pain continues and I realize I can’t stall. I ask my primary care physician for another orthopod referral at a larger hospital.  This new doc takes one look and me and says “shazam” I’ve got just the guy for you…

He tells me that there is a new procedure for folks under 55 called a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing that is less invasive and destructive to the joint…and the killer news is that very few have to be redone, compared to the 10 year warranty on the traditional hip replacement.

So sign me up…I see Dr. Anwar, one of an elite number of surgeons performing this surgery and I’m scheduled to go under the knife. And what’s more, he finally tells me what the hell happened to me as a child (based on my description).  It was an acute synovitis:  an inflammation of my hip socket caused by a virus.  Apparently the fluid was withdrawn as a child and I was good to go until that episode ultimately led to end stage osteoarthritis in my hip.

Why am I boring you with this? Because today, one year later, I’m riding over 100 miles a week on my bike and played tennis yesterday for the first time in well over a year. And because Dr. Anwar and this procedure deserve the kudos. Having been a paramedic and seen the nightmare scenario played out in lots of people after hip surgery, it’s safe to say I was apprehensive.

But today, I feel like a youngster and have no intention of slowing down. In fact, I think I’ll kick it up a notch…

Thank you Dr. Anwar…


The Next Time You Judge

cory-monteith-raising-the-roof-01

Take a good long look at this young man’s face. It’s the face of addiction. It’s the face of a young man who had a disease.

Had…until the disease won, and he was taken from us.

We all do it…we judge. I’m guilty of it too at times and I have the disease. It’s a sad and misinformed prejudice in our society that consistently treats people with this disease as social lepers, outcasts, prisoners. We have created an entire prison-industrial complex to profit from the pain of their disease.

Now this. Cory Monteith was a bright young actor with a genetically altered brain that made it harder for him than others to say no to the substances that both brought him relief, and cut him down. An allergy of the mind and body that creates cravings that only the alcoholic/addict can understand. Bill Wilson understood it and addressed it masterfully in 1935.

1935. And we have done little since then to, as a society, call this what it is. A disease. It’s recognized as such in both the legal and medical communities but it’s given short shrift in the political arena.  It’s easier to accept money from the prison builder than it is to spend money for social services and critical health care to address this disease.

I’m sick of it. Not my own disease but the malaise of my fellow countrymen that turn the other cheek when it comes to getting real. Seeing it for what it is and treating it as such. Sick people who need help.

Look into this face and tell me he didn’t at least deserve that…


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